At the end of the meeting with the leaders of the country's Christian Churches and communities, Francis spoke of a people who need “plans for peace and not for woe”. The pontiff urged political leaders to find “urgent and durable solutions to the current economic, social and political crisis, mindful that there can be no peace without justice.”
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis concluded the Day of Prayer and Reflection for Lebanon expressing hope that the country will become again a “universal message of peace and fraternity”, a “land of tolerance and pluralism, an oasis of fraternity where different religions and confessions meet, where different communities live together, putting the common good before their individual interests.”
The leaders of the country's Christian communities – Catholic, Orthodox, Chaldean, Armenian, Evangelical – were present in St Peter's Basilica. The Syriac-Catholic Patriarch of Antioch, Mor Ignatius Youssef III, in his prayer asked: “O Lord, grant your Church your safety, peace and faith, day and night. Keep quarrels and disagreements away from her, spare her from fits of anger, [make us worthy] to give peace to one another with a pure heart.”
During the day, Church leaders were involved in three working sessions behind closed doors before the final prayer in the basilica. Invocations and songs in the region’s languages were heard, while, at the end, some young people gave the religious hierarchs a lighted lamp as a symbol of the will to become bearers of the light of peace in the world.
In his address, Francis expressed hope that, following today's meeting, the international community will take concrete steps to help Lebanon, “a country very close to my heart and which I wish to visit”.
For Francis, the plea “of an entire people”, which needs “plans for peace and not for woe”, can only be answered with peace, a word that resonates in all languages.
“In these woeful times, we want to affirm with all our strength that Lebanon is, and must remain, a project of peace,” the pontiff said. The country’s “different religions and confessions [must] meet”. Since its “different communities live together,” they must put “the common good before their individual interests.”
The pontiff’s appeal is addressed to all of Lebanon’s “Citizens: do not be discouraged, do not lose heart, find in the roots of your history the hope of a new flowering.” Likewise, the plea goes to its “Political leaders” who are called upon “in accordance with your responsibilities” to “find urgent and durable solutions to the current economic, social and political crisis, mindful that there can be no peace without justice.
“Beloved Lebanese of the diaspora: place the best energies and resources at your disposal at the service of your homeland. Members of the international community: through joint efforts, may conditions be created so that the country will not collapse, but embark upon a path of recovery. This will be to everyone’s advantage.”
“We believe that God has shown us but one way: the way of peace. Let us therefore assure our Muslim brothers and sisters, and those of other religions, of our openness and readiness to work together in building fraternity and promoting peace. [. . .] It is my hope that this day will be followed by concrete initiatives under the aegis of dialogue, of efforts to educate, and of solidarity.
“Plans for peace and not for woe. Today we have made our own the hope-filled words of the poet Gibran: beyond the black curtain of the night, there is a dawn that awaits us. Several young people have just given us lighted lamps. The young are themselves lamps burning brightly at his dark hour. Their faces reflect hope for the future. May their voices be heard and heeded, for the country’s rebirth depends on them.
“May all of us, before making important decisions, learn to look to the hopes and dreams of young people. Let us look too at little children: may their eyes, shining brightly yet brimming with tears, disturb our consciences and guide our decisions. Still other lights are shining on the horizon: they are women. [. . .] Women generate life and hope for everyone. May they be respected, valued and included in decision-making processes in Lebanon.
“To paraphrase the poet once again, let us recognize that there is no other way to come to the dawn than honest dialogue and pure intentions, we can bring light where there is darkness. Let us entrust every effort and commitment to Christ, the Prince of Peace, so that, as we have prayed, ‘by the uneclipsed rays of his mercy, darkness will flee, twilight vanish, shadows be dispelled and the night recede’ [. . .]. May hostilities cease, disagreements fade away, and Lebanon once more radiate the light of peace.”